A Navy sailor who became the first American killed in the military offensive to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS died while serving alongside Navy SEALs, defense officials said Sunday.
Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was attached to an elite SEAL team that was advising the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service, one defense official in Iraq said. The Iraqi troops were attacked by ISIS terrorists Thursday, and the SEAL team decided to pull back along with the the troops they were advising, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq. Finan was in a vehicle and in the process of telling other members of his team that he had spotted a roadside bomb when he was killed, the general told reporters in the city of Erbil on Sunday.
Finan is survived by his wife, Chariss, and their 7-year-old son, of Imperial Beach, Calif. Finan, a native of Anaheim, Calif., was assigned to the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3, based just 100 miles to the south in Coronado, Calif. He enlisted in the Navy in August of 2003 and had earned several commendations throughout his lengthy military career, a Navy spokeswoman said Saturday.
“Chief Finan was extremely proud of his service to his country [and] he was deeply respected by his peers and teammates,” Capt. Dean Muriano, commander of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Unit 1, said in a statement. “His family and brothers in arms are mourning and grieving the loss of this respected and talented Sailor.”
“He gave his life for his teammates and was committed and loyal to the country he loved,” Muriano wrote. “In return I ask that to best honor his memory and service, we give both his family and his fellow Sailors the time they need to heal so they can mourn his loss.”
In addition to Finan’s death, there were reportedly also heavy casualties among Kurdish peshmerga forces in their push for Mosul.
“Regrettably a number of peshmerga have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to deliver today’s gains,” the peshmerga’s general command said in a statement. U.S. coalition support and air cover “were not as decisive as in the past,” it added.
There are currently more than 5,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq.